Black Pastor Uses Lynching Photo to Help Get out the Vote

Andrew Mach, NBC News, September 13, 2012

A pastor in Indiana has put up a sign that uses a historical image of the 1930 lynching of two black teenagers in an effort to recharge the black vote.

Rev. Joy Thornton, the senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, said he’s concerned that African-Americans have grown complacent about voting, and he wants to urge people to exercise the right he says was hard won, the Associated Press reported.

The sign, which has stood for nearly a week along the street in front of the church, shows, on one side, a white mob gathered around the teens to watch the lynching in Marion, Ind. Atop the photo is the word “VOTE!!!” Beneath it is the question: “Is this a reason to vote?” The other side of the sign shows an image of slaves in chains, with wording beneath it that reads, “Lest we forget.”

“[The sign] is to let people know there’s been a price paid for the privilege of voting,” Thornton, a black pastor of what he describes as a multiracial congregation, told Indianapolis’ WISH TV. “Oftentimes people get complacent and don’t realize that people made a sacrifice, matter of fact, the ultimate sacrifice for such a privilege.”


“Regardless of who you vote for, you need to exercise your privilege, which is voting,” Thornton said.


“I don’t think it [the sign] is as harsh as the fact that when we talk about African-Americans being murdered and killed at an alarming rate,” Thornton said. “It’s not as harsh as the fact we make up about 12 percent of the population and about 90 percent of the incarceration. It is not as harsh as the drugs that we are being exploited within our communities.”

Thornton, who said he’s received two complaints about the sign since it was put up, has no plans to take it down “until the Lord says so.”

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